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Think about your game plan vs. this Packers offense and QB Aaron Rodgers. Are you going to send pressure or play coverage?
Early on Sunday night (and in the red zone), I saw the Falcons play a lot of Cover 2. Why? To take away the vertical concepts—the same idea Lovie Smith’s Bears have had vs. Rodgers over the years. Force this Green Bay offense (which is starting to look very similar to New England from a scheme perspective) to sustain drives and work down the field.
But then you decide to send pressure (zone or man), and watch as Rodgers lights up your secondary.
Exactly what we saw from this Atlanta defense late in the third quarter with a 14-9 lead. Check out the replay of Rodgers’ 70-yard TD pass to James Jones vs. zone pressure and we will get into some quick coaching points…
– Green Bay has their regular personnel (2 WR, 1 TE, 2 RB) with a “slot exchange” look to the closed (strong) side of the formation. Align TE Jermichael Finley removed from the core of the formation as the No.1 WR with Jones as the No.2 in the slot (on the ball).
– The route scheme isn’t anything new or complex. Inside stem to the dig route (square-in) from the backside X receiver (Greg Jennings), deep curl from Finley (Y) and the skinny post from Jones (Z),
– A route the Falcons can cover rushing five and dropping six into coverage. However, here is the issue with sending five-man zone pressure: protection schemes. The Packers are using 7-man protection off the Lead Draw play fake. And that means Rodgers will have time to throw and pick on the safety.
– Go back to the replay and check out the coverage scheme in the backend. Take away the two underneath zone droppers (inside vertical hook players) and the Falcons are playing Cover 6 (quarter, quarter, half). A “cloud” (think Cover 2) to the open side over Jennings with the SS and closed side CB playing the vertical release of No.1 and No.2 (Jones and Finley).
– Check out the SS. With pressure, he is expecting the ball to come out on a hot read (sight adjust quick slant, seam). But now that Rodgers has time to throw, his technique fades. He “squats” (stops his feet), opens his hip to the outside (vs. an inside breaking route) and finds himself in a trail position vs. a WR. And Rodgers won’t miss there.
The point here is simple: if you send pressure, you better get home. That doesn't mean you put your entire blitz package on the shelf vs. the Packers, However, you better know that Rodgers can burn any secondary if the defensive execution isn't near perfect right now.
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